77 killed as hanging bridge in Gujarat's Morbi collapses

77 killed as hanging bridge in Gujarat's Morbi collapses

Many bodies had been fished out from the Machhu river and sent for for post-mortem examinations

At least 77 people, including women and children, were killed and scores were missing as the hanging bridge over the Machhu dam in Gujarat's Morbi district collapsed on Sunday evening, officials said.

Many bodies had been fished out from the Machhu river and sent for for post-mortem examinations at the Morbi government hospital while Morbi MLA and Minister of State for Panchayat Brajesh Merja confirmed the number of deaths. No break-up of the deceased was available yet.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who has cancelled all his programmes and rushed to Morbi to personally monitor rescue and medical services, announced Rs400,000 compensation to the kin of the deceased and Rs50,000 financial help to those injured in the accident.

Patel is likely to camp in Morbi till the rescue operations continue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took cognisance of the accident, announced a compensation of Rs200,000 to the next of the kin of the dead from the PM's Relief Fund, and Rs50,000 for the injured.

According to a tweet by the Prime Minister's office, "PM @narendramodi spoke to Gujarat CM @Bhupendrapbjp and other officials regarding the mishap in Morbi. He has sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue ops. He has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and extend all possible help to those affected."

77 killed as hanging bridge in Gujarat's Morbi collapses
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The UAE has expressed its sincere condolences and solidarity with the Republic of India over the victims of a bridge collapse in Gujarat in west India, which resulted in the death of dozens of people.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the Indian government and people and to the families of victims, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured.

Meanwhile, the Morbi Municipal Committee's Chief Executive Officer SV Zala, in a shocking revelation, said that the bridge was opened for the public after renovation without a fitness certificate from the civic body.

On the state government's request, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has deployed one NDRF team from Rajkot, while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has instructed the Army rescue teams to rush to Morbi.

The rescue operation is likely to be carried out the entire night, as locals fears that children's bodies have be swept away due to the water flow in the Machhu river.

Local authorities' apprehension is that the bridge has collapsed right in the middle of the river, where the water level is 15 to 20 feet deep, and due to this the death toll is likely to rise.

A total of seven fire brigade teams were pressed into rescue services, and one State Disaster Response Force team, and two NDRF teamas from Gandhinagar rushed to the spot. Local authorities have started a helpline number - 02822-243300 - on which people can seek help to know about their missing relatives.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Sunday set up a five member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an IAS officer, to inquire into the suspension bridge collapse in the Morbi town.

The SIT will be headed by Commissioner of Municipalities Rajkumar Beniwal, and the other members are Secretary, Roads and Building Department, Sandeep Vasava, Inspector General of Police Subhash Trivedi, and two engineers specialised in structural and quality control.

The state government has deployed four NDRF teams, as well as defence personnel in search and rescue operations, and even summoned swimmers and divers from surrounding districts.

According to locals, the bridge contractor was charging Rs12 and Rs17 from visitors.

Local resident Ramesh Jilariya told the local media, that he, resided on the river bank, and "the moment I came to know that the bridge has collapsed, I, along with my friends, rushed to the river and rescued people hanging on the rope and fished out 15 dead bodies from the river".

Locals have rescued a 4-5-year-old boy, who along with seven to eight members of his family, were on the bridge when it collapsed, but his parents, brother, cousins and uncle were missing.

Prateek Vasava, who swam to the river bank after falling from the bridge, told 24 Hours local news channel that he witnessed several children fall into the river.

"I wanted to pull some of them along with me but they had drowned or got swept away," he said.

The bridge had collapsed in just a few seconds, he said.

The 230-metre historic bridge was built during British rule in the 19th century. It had been closed for renovation for six months and was reopened for the public last week.

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